While 2013 was a career year to say the least for Steve O’Dwyer, with an EPT title, two other major final tables and $2.3 million in earnings, 2014 had been a far quieter campaign with two months to go.
That changed dramatically over the course of three days in Macau, as O’Dwyer outlasted one of the most talent-heavy fields in recent memory to win the Asia Championship of Poker Super High Roller and its HK$14,050,000 ($1,811,828) first place prize.
O’Dwyer sealed his victory by defeating Ryan Fee heads-up, but the final table he had to fight his way through was about as strong as you might imagine for this kind of event. There was also Triple Crown winner Davidi Kitai, Joseph Cheong, Connor Drinan, Pratyush Buddiga and, oh yeah, some guy named Dan Colman.
While Colman (shockingly) failed to recover from starting the final table as the shortest stack, he did make one pay bump and earned himself a little extra breathing room from Mike Leah’s late surge in the 2014 BLUFF Player of the Year race.
Colman earned that pay bump on the back of Kitai, and did the dirty work himself. Kitai’s K 8 was ahead of Colman’s Q J preflop, but the K T 9 flop gave Colman the straight right off the bat, and with no sign of runner-runner full house there was nothing the Belgian could do about it, going out eighth.
After a hot start in the first hour of Day 3 and that elimination, it looked as if Colman was building towards yet another tremendous victory in a growingly ridiculous year of tournament results. Then he managed to five-bet shove his A K into O’Dwyer’s A A – and while Colman would actually pick up a flush draw by the turn of an 8 7 4 9 board, the fifth club wouldn’t come on the river as he quickly exited in seventh place.
Kitson Kho, the lone player from Hong Kong and the least accomplished tournament player at this final table, got short-stacked and ran A T into Buddiga’s A K and failed to catch up, falling in sixth. Buddiga would also outflip Cheong, the chipleader coming into the final table, as his 5 5 held against A J to bust Cheong in fifth place.
O’Dwyer started to distance himself from the other three, but Fee would draw closely with a huge double through Drinan, as Fee’s 7 7 spiked a 7 on the flop to neutralize Drinan’s A 9. Left with just a handful of chips, the rest of Drinan’s stack got in for less than the big blind on the next hand. O’Dwyer bet Buddiga out of the hand and tabled 5 3 for a flush on the J 6 2 4 board, leaving Drinan needing to hit one more diamond with his Q 8. It was not to be, though, and Drinan was out in fourth.
Three-handed play was brief, as O’Dwyer picked off Buddiga blind against blind with K 7 to Buddiga’s K 2 – getting a low enough board so as to have the seven play without pairing. One year after final tabling the GuangDong Asia Millions Main Event for the biggest cash of his career, Buddiga banked $844,660 for his third place finish – another new high water mark in his tournament career.
O’Dwyer started with almost two-thirds of the chips going into heads-up play with Fee, but it would take some work to finish the job. Fee won his first all in, K T to Q T, and after giving some back he doubled again with K 9 against O’Dwyer’s A 3 by hitting a 9 on the turn.
Fee drew closer and closer to O’Dwyer, but one failed bluff dashed his chances of the title. After Fee opened to 1.3 million, O’Dwyer called and the flop fell Q 9 7. O’Dwyer check-called for 1.6 million and the 3 fell on the turn. O’Dwyer checked again, Fee bet 4 million and O’Dwyer found a call once more, bringing the 5 and a four-flush on the board on the river.
O’Dwyer took the passive approach for the fourth consecutive street of action and Fee shoved for 10 million – sending O’Dwyer deep into the tank. He eventually found a call with Q 8, for a top pair turned into a middling flush, but that was plenty good enough against Fee’s busted straight draw with 6 5 – bringing the tournament to a swift and decisive end.
The ACOP Super High Roller is in the books, but with an HK$100,000 ($12,895) Main Event still to come (and an HK$15 million guarantee on the prizepool), there are still some more big winners to be named this week in Macau.
Asia Championship of Poker – HK$500,000 Super High Roller
- Steve O’Dwyer – HK$14,050,000 ($1,811,828)
- Ryan Fee – $1,283,109
- Pratyush Buddiga – $844,660
- Connor Drinan – $657,674
- Joseph Cheong – $528,718
- Kitson Kho – $438,449
- Daniel Colman – $373,972
- Davidi Kitai – $312,124
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